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ADOPTION R. H. (05/01/79)

decided: May 1, 1979.

IN RE ADOPTION OF R. H., A MINOR. APPEAL OF C. M. H. (TWO CASES); IN RE ADOPTION OF D. H., A MINOR


No. 55 March Term, 1978, Appeal from Decree entered January 4, 1978, at No. 69, 1977, by the Orphans' Court Division of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County; No. 54 March Term, 1978, No. 54 March Term, 1978, Appeal from Decree entered February 7, 1978, at No. 64, 1977, by the Orphans' Court Division of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County.

COUNSEL

Louis P. Vitti, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Dina G. McIntyre, McIntyre & McIntyre, Pittsburgh, for Raymond and Mary Lou Gruseck.

John H. Auld, II, Howard S. Auld & Assoc., Allison Park, for Charles E. Wittmer, et ux.

Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Nix, Manderino and Larsen, JJ. Larsen, J., concurs in the result.

Author: Roberts

[ 485 Pa. Page 158]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Since February, 1977, Mr. and Mrs. G. have raised D.H., now age five, and Mr. and Mrs. W. have raised R.H., now four. Each couple has filed in the Orphans' Court Division of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County a petition to adopt the child in its custody for the past two years. In October, 1977, at the time hearings on the petitions to adopt were scheduled to begin, appellant, the natural mother of the proposed adoptees, filed petitions to vacate decrees entered in May, 1977 terminating her parental rights. Appellees, the Gs and the Ws, opposed the petitions. After evidentiary hearings, the orphans' court dismissed appellant's petitions to vacate. On these appeals, appellant argues that the evidence in support of her petitions is "uncontroverted" and that the orphans' court was required to grant relief. Our review satisfies us that appellant's claim is without merit and we affirm.

[ 485 Pa. Page 159]

I

D.H. was born in July, 1973 and R.H. was born in September of the following year. Appellant, now 22, and her former husband, the natural father of both children, separated shortly after R.'s birth. For over two years, neither appellant nor her former husband lived with or took care of the children. Instead, both children were raised by appellant's mother. Appellant's mother experienced difficulty raising the children, the Gs and the Ws expressed interest in adopting the children and, in February, 1977, appellant's mother, with appellant's knowledge, placed the children with appellees. Since placement, each couple has filed a report of intention to adopt under Section 331 of the Adoption Act of 1970.*fn1

In April, 1977, the Gs petitioned the orphans' court, under Section 311(1) of the Act,*fn2 for a decree involuntarily terminating both natural parents' rights to D.H. There is no dispute that appellant and the natural father were served with notice of the proceedings.*fn3 The natural father appeared at the hearing but appellant did not, and neither parent contested termination. Appellant's mother testified on behalf of the Gs. The orphans' court on May 3, 1977 entered the requested ...


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